Senator Thad Cochran (R., Miss.) announced Monday he will resign effective April, 1 due to ongoing health issues.
Cochran, who chairs the appropriations committee, turned 80 in December and has recently struggled with a urinary tract infection that prevented his attendance in Washington for one month last fall.
“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge,” Cochran said in a statement. “I intend to fulfill my responsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi and the Senate, through the completion of the 2018 appropriations cycle, after which I will formally retire from the U.S. Senate.”
The long-serving lawmaker was first elected to the Senate in 1978 after serving six years in the House; he was the first Republican to win a statewide election in Mississippi in more than 100 years and his tenure qualifies as the tenth longest in congressional history.
“It has been a great honor to serve the people of Mississippi and our country. I’ve done my best to make decisions in the best interests of our nation, and my beloved state,” Cochran said. “My top concern has always been my constituents in Mississippi. My hope is by making this announcement now, a smooth transition can be ensured so their voice will continue to be heard in Washington, D.C. My efforts, and those of my staff, to assist them will continue and transfer to my successor.”
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant will appoint a successor to serve until a special election is held to determine who will serve the remainder of Cochran’s term, which concludes in 2021.
Senate aides who have served with Cochran told CNN his mental faculties have declined in recent years.